Security Council open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question S/PV.7164 (29 April 2014): Mr. Robert Serry, Special
Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, began the open debate by briefing the Council on the status of
Israeli/Palestinian negotiations, noting that the Council would be briefed on Syria the following day and on Lebanon the following week. Council Members and
States Parties subsequently addressed the situation in Israel/Palestine, as well as those in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
There were several infrequent references to women, peace and security in this open debate. The majority of these few comments seemed to be more about
finger-pointing than they were about the promotion of women’s rights (Palestine -> violence against women in Israel; Israel -> persecution of women in Palestine;
Israel -> persecution of women in Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia -> treatment of women in Israel; Syria -> “some delegations of States” where women are deprived of
their fundamental rights, unlike in Syria where a woman is Vice-President). Other women peace and security comments came from Luxembourg (Syrian government
starving its women and children); from Bolivia (Israel attacking women and children Palestinians); from Argentina (noting the problem of sexual violence in Syria);
and from Nigeria (highlighting the opportunity for Yemen to engender greater inclusion for women and children as part of its National Dialogue Conference).
Despite approximately 50 speakers addressing the situations in Israel/Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, there was minimal attention afforded to women, peace
and security. Therefore, there were countless missed opportunities to emphasize women’s critical role in conflict resolution, mediation and peacebuilding processes,
not to mention in public life more broadly, with only one speaker genuinely encouraging greater women’s participation (Nigeria’s call for Yemen to seize the
opportunity as part of its National Dialogue Conference). Several speakers pointed fingers at other states’ allegedly poor records on women’s rights, but few
legitimately called for greater protection of women in any of these contexts, a dire need in all but especially in Syria and amongst those displaced by the Syria crisis.
As with all recent briefings and debates on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question, there was little to no alignment with the most recent
MAP recommendations (February 2014). Specific to Israel/Palestine, there is no reference given to the role of women in conflict resolution and peacebuilding
efforts (although Nigeria did comment on women’s participation in Yemen). The debate did include the occasional reference to violence against women in Israel,
Palestine and Syria, but most comments came in the form of one criticized nation making accusations against the other (Israel-Palestine, Palestine-Israel, Israel-Saudi
Arabia, Saudi Arabia-Israel, Syria-others).
The previous meeting on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question, S/PV.7140, was only a briefing and contained no reference to women
peace and security. However, the previous open debate on the subject, S/PV.7096, similarly offered the occasional comment on women peace and security,
although more attention was paid to both the participation and protection needs of women in the Syria crisis, with many substantive calls for women’s full and
effective participation in peace negotiations and the political transition in Syria.